John Njord, director of the Utah DOT, was elected the new president of the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials. Bryan Nicol, commissioner of the Indiana DOT, was elected vice president.
Njord has served with UDOT since 1988, most recently as deputy director and chief engineer prior to his appointment as executive director. He was responsible for the transportation planning for the Olympic Games in Utah.
Upon his election as president of AASHTO, Njord proposed three emphasis areas for the association in the next year: reauthorization, optimizing the transportation and environmental leadership.
"The immediate concern is to keep state agencies in business after Sept. 30--to fix the TEA-21 revenue title before it expires at the end of the month," he said.
Njord added that AASHTO must rapidly develop and implement a strategy for a bill that is timely, promotes AASHTO goals, keeps state agencies in business with no interruption of funding or programs and effectively positions the association "for the best long-term financial good."
Njord coined the new term "optimizing the system" to describe work that ensures existing transportation systems work better, smarter and safer. "We need to look beyond cameras and variable message boards and think about tomorrow," he said. "It's important we have interagency coordination and work with the automobile industry and private communications companies."
Njord cited intelligent transportation systems (ITS), incident management teams and access management as methods of "squeezing the most from the system in place." He also urged deployment of ITS and other technologies and enhanced traveler information systems.